Summer is prep time for life after playing days

by David McCoy

During the tennis season, Mikey Kantar spends his time analyzing how to defeat his opponents.

But during these summer months, Kantar elected to spend his time analyzing something much simpler, yet much more complicated: plants.

“The project I work for deals with looking at conserved non-coding regions in different cultivars of the legume Medicago truncatula,” Kantar said.

Though it sounds complicated, it’s right up Kantar’s alley – and not one on the tennis court.

Kantar’s major works with plant genetics. He has an undergraduate internship in bioinformatics through the University, which is also supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Kantar said he spent the first two weeks of the internship learning computer science. He’s now in his third of the 10-week program. Besides Kantar, 15 other students are participating in the Bioinformatics Summer Institute. He does his research in the Cargill Building on the St. Paul campus.

It’s a full-time job, running June 6 through Aug. 12, and pays a $5,000 stipend. Though it’s full time, Kantar said the internship is great because it provides him with much flexibility to allow him to develop into a better tennis player in the meantime.

“One of the big things with athletes is they try to find something where they can train and play, but still make a little money and can pursue their interests,” Kantar said. “It’s about finding a balance.”

As far as his future is concerned, he said he needs to go to graduate school to continue on his current career path. As far as what exactly he wants to go for, he’s not yet sure. But he said he’s hoping this internship will help him figure that out.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Kantar said. “I get to find out a lot of things not a lot of people know.

“I’m working on plants, but the same techniques find drugs for diseases, illnesses and human life. It’s very interesting.”

Megan Steiger

Minnesota women’s tennis player Megan Steiger doesn’t shy away from the lab either.

The biomedical engineering student is doing research in the University’s department of urology, working on projects concerned with female incontinence.

Steiger said the paid, full-time summer internship is a joint effort between two professors, one in the urology department and the other in the mechanical engineering department.

While that might seem an odd pair, the two fields combine to provide Steiger with the perfect internship to suit her interests in biomechanics.

“This is the project that (mechanical engineering professor Arthur G. Erdman) recommended to me, just because there really wasn’t a lot going on with the type of biomechanics I was wanting to research in,” Steiger said.

The goal of her team’s research is to examine whether exercise can cause or contribute to female incontinence, specifically in college-aged women.

Among other things, Steiger’s responsibilities included doing “background work” to see what her team could look for in the research. She even used erector sets to set up models. But that wasn’t her favorite, she said.

“I do a lot of things,” Steiger said. “One of the things has been doing statistical analysis on surveys we sent out for the study. It’s kind of fun, because I get to apply mathematical reasonings.”

Shannon Bolden

Minnesota women’s basketball player Shannon Bolden might dream of employment with a professional basketball team. But for now, Bolden’s employment with a professional baseball team is helping her achieve another goal.

“I want to get my master’s in sports management,” Bolden said. “So I thought it would be a good experience. It’s good to work in a sports setting, and it’s a good resume builder.”

Bolden is a corporate sales intern for the Minnesota Twins, earning 10 summer credits as part of a needed practicum.

She works with the junior public address announcer and mini-mascot programs, including dressing up the mini-mascots and bringing them down to the field. She also puts together recap booklets for clients that include pictures and information.

Bolden said the full-time internship lasts the whole Twins season and through October. Although she won’t be full time then, she said she will come in whenever possible when her basketball and academic schedules allow.

That kind of flexibility is not only great for Bolden, but necessary.

“Most (Gophers athletes) don’t have summer jobs,” Bolden said. “But internships are needed. I definitely only have time for one in the summer.”